Office 365 offers a compelling range of services and functionality all bundled into a simple monthly subscription. It is a very popular product, and one that we recommend and include as a key component in our flagship CloudSuite solution.
All Office 365 subscriptions include:
- Financially backed service level agreement (SLA) guaranteeing 99.9% uptime;
- Guaranteed security and privacy;
- Simple deployment and management with the ability to add and remove users instantaneously;
- Regular updates as part of your subscription;
- Active Directory integration with synchronization to single sign-on;
and then a combination of features that vary from plan to plan.
There are many plans available and it’s a good idea to make sure you understand the differences between them, as it’s very easy to make a mistake and choose a plan that is not suitable for your specific needs.
The first thing to recognize is that there are three main families of commercial plans available: Business, Enterprise and Standalone. Choosing between the Business and Enterprise plans should be based on the size of your organisation, and on specific combinations of features you may require.
Business plans are limited to a maximum of 300 users, and so if your needs exceed that level then Enterprise plans are the appropriate choice.
Enterprise plans provide additional features typically required by larger organizations, and can be used for any number of users (ie from 1 to unlimited).
Standalone plans are available on their own, or can be added to Enterprise plans to provide additional features.
You are also able to combine Business and Enterprise plans, but the 300 user limit will still apply to Business Plans.
Looking at the business plans there are three options to choose between.
All Business plans include 1TB of personal storage as well as iOS, Android and Windows Phone mobile versions of applications.
In many cases the first question to answer is whether you require the desktop versions of Microsoft Office applications. If so, you require the Business or Business Premium Plan.
Next, confirm if you require hosted email. If you do then the Business Premium plan is the only suitable option.
In our experience, the Business Premium plan is the most popular choice with small to medium sized businesses, and it can be supplemented with Enterprise or Standalone plans where there is a requirement for additional features or functions.
Aside from supporting an unlimited number of users Enterprise plans offer a range of powerful features that are typically of interest to larger organisations.
A specific example of this that often applies to smaller businesses is the requirement for Office 365 ProPlus rights, which will allow Office applications to be used within Remote Desktop Services (i.e. a Terminal Server).
Enterprise and Standalone plans can be combined freely to provide any organisation with the flexibility to choose a mix of plans to suit their specific needs.
In our experience the Enterprise E3 plan is the most popular choice for organisations seeking a broad range of functions, but excluding more specialised features required by much larger organisations.
A full description of all Office 365 plan options described by Microsoft can be found here.